Seniors’ home to be forced closed
By Nick Zacharias
PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS
Frank Nagy, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and lives at Maison des Anges Blancs in Rigaud, gives residence owner Brenda Samson an affectionate embrace. The warm moment contrasts starkly with his daughter Kristina’s fears for his wellbeing if he’s forced to leave his caring environment.
Maison des Anges Blancs, a small seniors’ residence in Rigaud, is weeks away from being shut down by the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de la Montérégie-Centre. Owner Brenda Samson, who has run the facility since 2013, is devastated and feels that she and her four residents are being unfairly forced out. There are a number of issues that Chantal Champagne, the inspector from the CISSS, has pointed out as needing correction. While Samson has been making efforts to address the issues, time has run out and Champagne confirmed by telephone that a letter has been sent informing Samson of the decision that all residents must be out by midnight December 18.
According to Veronica Davies, a nurse hired by the CLSC to provide support for one of Samson’s residents who suffers from Alzheimer’s, the small, family atmosphere and care the residents receive is excellent. “The residents are thriving here, thriving,” she said. She described the trajectory of resident Aline Cayen, who has been at Maison des Anges Blancs since August. “She was fulltime in a wheelchair before, and came here covered with bruises after falling numerous times at her previous residence, and then again at Valleyfield Hospital where she was moved. She was in such bad shape that she was withdrawn, her sister described her as being in a state something like a zombie. But since she came here she walks short distances and showers with Brenda’s help, she’s playing cards and joking and having fun, she’s transformed.”
Help not given
“They said I have to do a C7 competency certification, and to renew my CPR certification which had expired in May,” said Samson, “but they didn’t tell me where to go, they just said to call the English School Board. When I called the school board they said they had never heard of the C7 competency course, and anyway with COVID the schools were all closed.” She eventually had a nurse give her some pointers on where to go, and several phone calls later got to the right place. She is now working on getting her CPR re-certification online, and is on a waiting list for the C7 course, but as yet hasn’t been given a start date and time has run out.
“I upgraded railings, installed a keypad lock on the office where medication is stored, installed new hardwired smoke detectors and a sprinkler system in the kitchen that they asked for,” she said. “The inspector also says I have to have panic doors installed that have to be unlocked at all times, but how can I have the doors unlocked 24 hours a day when we have residents with dementia who can wander away?”
Samson says she is willing to address the door issue by adding expensive keypad locks everywhere, but had trouble getting contractors to do the work during the pandemic, and at this point is wondering if it’s worth it. She says she’s under the impression that she’s being targeted, and feels like even if she were to conduct $100,000 in repairs the government would continue to find more faults.
Afraid for the future
Andrew Dzurobka, another resident, says he doesn’t want to leave. “I’m happy here, I feel safe, and I don’t want to go to some bigger place. I’m comfortable here.” Kristina Nagy, whose father Frank Nagy is also a resident, has more grave concerns. “He has Alzheimer’s and he needs care and to be around people. Anywhere they move him they’re going to insist on a two-week quarantine; closed in a room, isolated from everyone? He won’t survive that.” Nagy says that she’s being proactive and having him assessed to find options to place him, but is afraid for what might happen.
“I feel like Brenda is providing great care, and it’s such a great place for them, but I’m just not sure that it’s being clearly communicated to her exactly what she needs to do to satisfy the requirements,” said Nagy. “I reached out to the CISSS to ask for a meeting, because I thought it would be best if everyone could sit down and discuss exactly what needs to be done, but that hasn’t happened.”
In the meantime, the clock is ticking. Said Samson, “I came here from a very poor background in the Philippines in 1989 and got my citizenship in 1995. They told me Canada is such a great country and free and with so many opportunities, but now the government is taking everything away from me. I have a mortgage to pay, and if they take away the residents I’ll have no more income, and I don’t know how I’ll get a job with COVID everywhere. Really the whole situation is so sad.”